A delicious scare for audiences ready for chills.

GHASTLY GHOSTS

When Dave inherits a remote cottage, the house speaks to him. Literally.

The hinges on the door “squeeeeeak,” the bathroom pipes “moooan,” and the cellar “waaillls.” Dave takes it all in stride, but he wishes for a human voice—but that night, he hears, “Ghastly ghosts in the old coal shed!” Dave tries to shake his fear, but the voice repeats the phrase in an ever louder voice as expressive illustrations capture Dave’s increasing alarm. When the fireplace coal burns down, Dave is cold enough to steel himself for a trip to the monstrous coal shed. Braving the “ghastly ghosts,” Dave gains their respect by requesting their help gathering coal and inviting them to share his fire—if they can “find something ELSE to say!” Practiced picture-book readers will appreciate the subtext in the cheery, cartoon illustrations, such as the cat companion that mimics Dave’s actions and reactions and the potential friends hiding in the shadows. This is a great rhyming read-aloud, especially if the reader’s voice embraces the drama. Before the story resolves on a happy note (Dave is playing his fiddle while surrounded by new friends, both spectral and otherwise), the tension escalates until the ghastly ghosts are finally confronted. Dave presents as a spry, gray-bearded white man.

A delicious scare for audiences ready for chills. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2864-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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What could be more soporific at bedtime than hairy, green-haired slime ogres with nightlight-orange eyes? (Picture book. 5-8)

HEY, THAT'S MY MONSTER!

From the I Need My Monster series

Another round of under-the-bed–boojum auditions from the creators of I Need My Monster (2009).

Outraged that his personal bed monster, Gabe, has decamped to attend to his wakeful little sister, a lad marches across the hall to remonstrate. Given three chances to conjure up a suitable new monster for hyperactive Emma, three drippy, wormy, tentacled horrors are summoned in turn. Unfortunately, Emma turns out to be delighted rather than properly terrified, and none will do. Will the boy be forced to go monsterless? Drawn with big, shiny eyes and oversized heads, the two light-skinned sibs glow with energy—but the garishly hued monsters in McWilliam’s toy-strewn bedroom scenes are show stealers, whether exuding pools of pink slime or rearing up in glowering, warty menace in vain efforts to get Emma into bed. At last, in a satisfying if not particularly logical twist, it turns out that Gabe himself has a little sister, Stella, whose threatened attack on the giggling Emma’s toes results in a quick bonding and, a page turn later, snoozing children on both sides of the hall.

What could be more soporific at bedtime than hairy, green-haired slime ogres with nightlight-orange eyes? (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936261-37-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Series fans won’t be disappointed, but young readers and listeners who know only the original ditty may find this a touch...

THERE WAS AN OLD MERMAID WHO SWALLOWED A SHARK!

Having eaten pretty much everything on land in 13 previous versions of the classic song, Colandro’s capaciously stomached oldster goes to sea.

Once again the original cumulative rhyme’s naturalistic aspects are dispensed with, so that not only doesn’t the old lady die, but neither do any of the creatures she consumes. Instead, the titular shark “left no mark,” a squid follows down the hatch to “float with the shark,” a fish to “dance with the squid,” an eel to “brighten the fish” (with “fluorescent light!” as a subsequent line explains), and so on—until at the end it’s revealed to be all pretending anyway on a visit to an aquarium. Likewise, though Lee outfits the bespectacled binge-eater with a finny tail and the requisite bra for most of the extended episode, she regains human feet and garb at the end. In the illustrations, the old lady and one of the two children who accompany her are pink-skinned; the other has frizzy hair and an amber complexion. A set of nature notes on the featured victims and a nautical seek-and-find that will send viewers back to the earlier pictures modestly enhance this latest iteration.

Series fans won’t be disappointed, but young readers and listeners who know only the original ditty may find this a touch bland. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-12993-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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